What Defines a Successful Running Career?

By: Lauren Davis

Meb Keflezighi, of San Diego, Calif., celebrates his victory Rita Jeptoo, of Kenya, celebrates her win in the women's division

Meb Keflezighi:

“I feel 99.9(%) of my career has been accomplished with the exception of the Boston title” 

 after the NYC Half Marathon in March.

“This solidifies my career. It was 99.9% fulfilled. The .1% was missing, but now it’s more than 100%… I feel blessed to have this opportunity to win the Boston title, not just for me, but for the people.”

— after winning the Boston Marathon, ending the US drought.

Most runners are constantly striving to be better. It’s not enough to PR, set a course record, or win your race. There is a constant, forward looking ideal to be even faster, stronger, better.

On the other hand, identifying what your ideal running career looks like is something we spend much less, if any time focusing on. For the non-professional athlete, long-term goals don’t seem to be all that prevalent. Sure, if I were good enough to make the Olympics or win the Boston Marathon, that would be the ultimate. Do “career” goals even have a place for the non-professional runner?

Meb’s a more decorated athlete than nearly any of us will ever be, but I believe there’s a great deal of value in writing down our personal definition of 100%. When I look back on all the years I spent running, will I be able to say that I solidified my running career? What does that look and feel like? Is it a race or a specific time? Or is it more of a feeling?

What does a successful running career look like to me?

  • Make running apart of my life everyday. Whether that’s a 10 mile long run, choosing to go to bed 1 hour earlier so I can get my run in the next morning, or relaxing in my sweats with a post-PR celebratory beer. The run is part of everyday.
  • Stay injury free.
  • Prove that you’re still capable of PRs. It’s not just what you had in college.
  • Be a better runner every day. Whether that means stacking PRs or improving my mental psychology. Improve, every day.
  • Compete often. Compete at the highest level you can. It’s so important to put it all out on the course. Racing reveals your insecurities, your doubts, your courage, your heart. It’s great to get up and run everyday, but it takes guts to race. And we need more racers, more competition, not just “fun runners”.
  • Inspire others through running.  
  • Give back to the running community that has given so much to me.

This is what 100% means to me. It feels like hard work, sacrifice, dedication, insecurities, doubts, and celebrations. For me, it’s not a specific race or time. Those will come with time. It’s about giving running my all, and discovering my full potential at every stage in my career.

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